Barack Obama Misrepresented Supreme Court Decision on Abortion, Health

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 7, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Barack Obama Misrepresented Supreme Court Decision on Abortion, Health

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 7
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — Barack Obama has clarified his comments from last week when he said that abortions shouldn’t be allowed for very minor mental health reasons. However, Obama is drawing heavy criticism from those who say he has misrepresented the Supreme Court, which has allowed unlimited abortions.

As reported last week, Obama said "mental distress" wasn’t sufficient to qualify abortions for the mental health exceptions abortion advocates favor.

This would seem to go against the Doe v. Bolton companion case to the more famous Roe v. Wade decision. Doe made it clear abortions would be allowed even for the most minor so-called mental distress making a woman consider an abortion.

Over the weekend, Obama clarified his comments but appeared to make his misstatement worse.

"In the past there has been some fear on the part of people who, not only people who are anti-abortion, but people who may be in the middle, that means that if a woman just doesn’t feel good then that is an exception. That’s never been the case," Obama claimed.

"I don’t think that is how it has been interpreted," Obama continued. "I don’t think that’s how pro-choice folks have interpreted it. I don’t think that’s how the courts have interpreted it and I think that’s important to emphasize and understand."

Ramesh Ponnuru of National Review says that, for a constitutional law professor, Obama appears to know very little about the finer points of the Supreme Court’s 1973 landmark abortion decisions.

"At best, he is being highly misleading," Ponnuru says.

"To review: Roe said that states could prohibit late-term abortions so long as they made an exception for the health of the mother. The Supreme Court handed down Doe v. Bolton on the same day as Roe. Both opinions were written by Justice Harry Blackmun, who said that they were to be ‘read together,’" Ponnuru explains.

In Doe, Blackmun wrote that health should be viewed "in the light of all factors—physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age…."

"As a result of Roe and Doe, abortion has been effectively legalized at any stage of pregnancy," Ponnuru adds.

He points out that, in a speech last year, Obama said,"I put Roe at the center of my lesson plan on reproductive freedom when I taught Constitutional law."

"That makes it harder to believe that his misdescription of abortion law over the last week was innocent," Ponnuru said.

"Based both on his co-sponsorship of the Freedom of Choice Act and his comments on Roe v. Wade, Obama is committed to legal abortion at any stage of pregnancy for essentially any reason, and he wants it subsidized by taxpayers too," Ponnuru concludes.

"Is he the most pro-abortion nominee ever? He at least ties."

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